The addition of the five day break into every National Hockey League club’s schedule this season has had its fans and detractors. On one hand, having five days off to rest mid-season is good for players. On the other hand, teams have generally been awful coming out of the break.
The Calgary Flames were no exception to this trend, following up a pretty good first period with an awful second and flat third en route to a 5-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Caught in the midst of a playoff chase, these were two points that the Flames absolutely could not afford to give away.
The Flames came out of the gates a little flat and, admittedly, neither team was particularly sharp early on. Calgary nearly gave up an early one, as Chad Johnson got tangled up with Mark Giordano behind the net and had to physically dive across his crease to make a save. The Coyotes opened the scoring around seven minutes into the game off a scrambley face-off loss for the Flames fourth line and a weird bounce off the boards. Martin Hanzal went to the net and deflected a Radim Vrbata shot past Johnson to make it 1-0. From that point on, the Flames were all over the Coyotes. They ended up out-shooting Arizona 19-9 in the first and were tremendously unlucky to be down after 20.
The wheels fell off for the Flames in the second period, erasing the momentum they got from that very good last 12 minutes of the first. The story of the first half of the period was as follows:
- The Flames would enter the Coyotes zone with the puck and try to generate a scoring chance.
- The Flames would fail to execute on a scoring chance and turn the puck over.
- The Coyotes would enter the Flames zone with speed and/or numbers.
- The Coyotes would score.
Christian Dvorak made it 2-0 off the rush, as the Flames defenders gave him plenty of time and space in the high slot to get a wrister off. Jordan Martinook buried a big bounce off the corner boards off a Ryan White dump-in from the neutral zone to make it 3-0. Midway through the period, White made it 4-0, deflecting a Luke Schenn point shot.
The Flames shuffled up their lines after the third goal. Johnny Gaudreau was put with Matt Stajan and Garnet Hathaway. Micheal Ferland joined Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer. T.J. Brodie with put with Deryk Engelland, while Brett Kulak was put with Wideman. It didn’t really translate to very much in the second period. Shots were 14-8 for Arizona.
Dvorak added his second in a rather dull and uneventful third period to make it 5-0 for the Coyotes. Shots were 9-9.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
After a first period where the Flames were buzzing, they came out completely flat in the second period and the Coyotes made them pay for it. Arizona may not be incredibly high in the standings, but the Flames seemed absolutely befuddled by their speed and passing in the second period.
THE TURNING POINT
We’ve written about the Flames’ tendency to “crumble” when they get down a couple goals this season. They were down by one after a really solid first period. They allowed the proverbial “next goal” early in the second, and utterly collapsed in on themselves. Again.
It’s completely lost in a game like this, but Kris Versteeg was very good in the first and his line was easily Calgary’s best overall.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
The game arguably peaked during the pre-game, as the Flames (a) had a moment of silence to commemorate the passing of Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and (b) involved 10 brand-new Canadians in the singing of O Canada.
A moment of silence in Calgary for Mike Ilitch.
— Ryan Leslie (@ryanleslie73) February 14, 2017
— NHL (@NHL) February 14, 2017
Down in Boston, Harvard beat Boston University 6-3 to win the Beanpot. It’s their first Beanpot win since 1993, ending the Boston University/Boston College stranglehold on the title. Flames prospect Adam Fox had a goal and an assist in the victory.
“I just think we started to press a little bit and they had more jump. It was kind of a carbon copy of every game that’s come out of these breaks. You come out with a lot of energy, and then you lack execution later in the game.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s performance.
“It shouldn’t be any excuse. We had a practice, we had a morning skate. We should’ve been able to bury some of our chances here and execute better. You just gotta find a way to get that done.” – Gulutzan on his club’s lack of execution coming off the break.
“We are either really good or really bad. There’s no in between for us right now,” — Chad Johnson.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) February 14, 2017
The Flames (28-26-3) practice tomorrow and then are back in game action on Wednesday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.